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“New Revelations Pose A Problem For ‘No-Show Rubio'”: A History Of Regularly Failing To Show Up For Work

For pundits, Marco Rubio’s record of not showing up for work has already been dismissed as campaign trivia. For months, the senator’s critics have highlighted Rubio’s history of skipping key votes, important briefings, and committee hearings, and for months, much of the political establishment has been inclined to blow off the issue.

But the Washington Post published a report yesterday that should encourage pundits to take a fresh look at the controversy.

In the anxious weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Florida House hurriedly assembled an elite group of lawmakers to develop plans to keep the state safe.

A spot on the Select Committee on Security was a mark of prominence in Tallahassee. Some of the airplane hijackers had acquired Florida driver’s licenses and trained at flight schools in the state, and legislators lobbied furiously behind the scenes in hopes of being named to the 12-member panel tasked with addressing the state’s newly exposed vulnerabilities.

Among them was a young Republican by the name of Marco Rubio, seen as a rising star in Florida GOP circles at the time, who sought and received one of the coveted slots. It was a rare opportunity for the GOP lawmaker to not only tackle the substance of a major issue, but also earn some credibility.

It really didn’t go well. The Washington Post reported that Rubio “skipped nearly half of the meetings over the first five months of the panel’s existence, more than any of his colleagues.” He also “missed hours of expert testimony and was absent for more than 20 votes.”

In one notable incident, Rubio arrived late for a debate, missed some expert testimony, made a passionate argument against the proposal under consideration, quickly realized his points lacked merit, and then voted for the measure he’d just criticized.

At another point, the article added, Rubio’s indifference to his duties prompted then-State House Speaker Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), who agreed to reward Rubio with the sought after assignment, to “express concern.”

Lately, when asked about his poor attendance habits, Rubio routinely points to the busy schedule of a presidential candidate. But in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Rubio was just a regular ol’ state lawmaker, who had far fewer pressures on his schedule. He nevertheless regularly failed to show up for work.

Making matters slightly worse, this article coincides with a new report from the Tampa Bay Times, which noted that Rubio points to his tenure on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as evidence of his White House qualifications, but a closer look suggests that’s probably not a good idea, given that the evidence ”paints a bleak picture of participation in the day-to-day responsibilities of the job.”

Rubio is on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Commerce and Small Business and Entrepreneurship committees. The Florida Republican has missed 68 percent of hearings, or 407 of 598 for which records were available.

His skipped 80 percent of Commerce hearings and 85 percent of those held by Small Business, records show.

He has missed 60 percent of Foreign Relations hearings since joining the Senate despite making his committee experience a centerpiece of his qualifications for president.

He attended 68 percent of Intelligence Committee meetings, though he has drawn criticism for missing high-profile ones, such as a briefing on the Paris terror attacks.

The argument from Rubio and his supporters is that he’s a presidential candidate, and it’s expected that senators on the national campaign trail are going to have a much lower profile on Capitol Hill. Maybe so. But the Tampa Bay Times’ analysis started with Rubio’s arrival in the Senate five years ago and ends in November 2015 – months before the official launch of his presidential bid.

The picture that emerges is that of a young man in a hurry, who’s eager for a promotion without having done much to deserve one.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 19, 2016

February 20, 2016 Posted by | Florida Legislature, Marco Rubio, Senate | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Rubio Blasts ISIS Strategy He Supports”: His Own Views On Foreign Policy Need Quite A Bit Of Work

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is clearly aware of the fact that many of the Republican presidential candidates are current or former governors. But the Florida senator believes he would have an important advantage over his GOP rivals.

“The next president of the United States needs to be someone that has a clear view of what’s happening in the world, a clear strategic vision of America’s role in it and a clear practical plan for how to engage America in global affairs,” Rubio said. He added that for governors running for the White House, international affairs will be “a challenge, at least initially, because they don’t deal with foreign policy on a daily basis.”

On the surface, that’s not a bad pitch. Indeed, presidential candidates from the Senate have made similar arguments against governors for many years. But listening to Rubio’s remarks this morning at CPAC, the trouble is that his own views on foreign policy need quite a bit of work.

“ISIS is a radical Sunni Islamic group. They need to be defeated on the ground by a Sunni military force with air support from the United States,” Rubio said.

“Put together a coalition of armed regional governments to confront [ISIS] on the ground with U.S. special forces support, logistical support, intelligence support and the most devastating air support possible,” he added, “and you will wipe ISIS out.”

Rubio’s remarks solicited applause from the mostly college-aged audience, as did the senator’s claim that “the reason Obama hasn’t put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS is because he doesn’t want to upset Iran,” during sensitive negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

Given Rubio’s interest in the issue, and the months of research and preparation he’s completed, I’m genuinely surprised at how bizarre this is.

Right off the bat, the notion that the president wouldn’t go after ISIS because he “doesn’t want to upset Iran” is bizarre – ISIS and Iran are enemies. Tehran is more than happy to see U.S. forces go after ISIS targets; in fact, Iran has done the same thing. When it comes to the terrorist group, Americans and Iranians are on the same side. How could Rubio not know this?

For that matter, the argument that Obama “hasn’t put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS” is plainly untrue. Rubio should know this, not only because he’s a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an unannounced presidential candidate, but also because Obama’s strategy to defeat ISIS is largely identical to Marco Rubio’s.

The senator fleshed this out at CPAC: target ISIS by using local ground forces, coupled with air support from the United States, all while U.S. officials take the lead in assembling an international coalition.

That, as of this morning, is Rubio’s plan. It’s also exactly what Obama has been doing since August.

This isn’t even the first time the senator has run into this problem. A month after the president launched a military offensive against ISIS targets, Rubio wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post with the following pitch:

To confront the Islamic State terrorists, we need a sustained air campaign targeting their leadership, sources of income and supply routes, wherever they exist. We must increase our efforts to equip and capacitate non-jihadists in Syria to fight the terrorist group. And we must arm and support forces in Iraq confronting it, including responsible Iraqi partners and the Kurds. In addition, we must persuade nations in the region threatened by the Islamic State to participate in real efforts to defeat it.

I’m not accusing Rubio of plagiarism, but this is awfully close to a word-for-word summary of the Obama administration’s policy.

If the senator wants to complain about the pace of progress against ISIS, fine. He’s not alone. But for Rubio to criticize Obama for adopting a policy Rubio endorses, all while getting Iran’s position backwards, is a bad sign for a guy whose “clear view of what’s happening in the world” is supposed to set him apart from his GOP rivals.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 27, 2015

March 2, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, ISIS, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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